Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Lighten up, Francis

Whenever Lil' Sis is in town (or I visit her), she likes to see movies. She knows I love 'em, and for whatever reason, she rarely goes with her friends. And unlike her big broham, she won't go to the theater by herself. So when she wants to see a movie, and I'm around, we're going to the cinema.

Lil' Sis had wanted to see Just Like Heaven ever since we saw the trailer before Wedding Crashers, so we saw Just Like Heaven. She loves the romantic comedies. And I can always say, "Hey, it was my sister's idea." Even if I like it more than I might be willing to admit. Plus, it's not like I don't get some female eye candy out of the deal. Hellooooo, Reese Witherspoon.

And hey, I liked it. (Oh, here's an e-mail just in from Lil' Sis: "Shut up! You loved it!") It was a cute movie, with two appealing stars who you want to see get together at the end of the story. I'll even give it credit for initially avoiding a typical Hollywood ending. But though the filmmakers seemed to have something different in mind, they eventually gave in to the inevitable. You can almost see the exact point where someone must have said, "Look, we're already over 90 minutes long on this. Just get them together, okay?" (Oops, should I have put a "Spoiler Alert!" in there?)

But that's all I thought of it. There was nothing deep about the film, nothing worth exploring underneath the surface. It was a nice 90-minute diversion. Hell, the funniest line of the afternoon wasn't in the movie; it was spoken by my sister, once Mark Ruffalo's character was introduced. Lil' Sis turned to Mama Cass and said, "Mom, did you know your son has a man-crush on that guy?" Ha ha ha! Oh, my little sister is so funny! So charming. So... pfft. I hope those Milk Duds make your teeth stick together.

(For the record, I simply admire the man's work. He's a good actor and is in one of my all-time favorite movies. I will acknowledge, however, that Ruffalo can come off - as my buddy Pete said last week - as "vaguely retarded" in some of his roles.)

Never once did I think Just Like Heaven had a hidden political subtext. Despite the plot, I never thought it might be commenting on the Terri Schiavo case, as A.O. Scott asserted in last week's New York Times. Look, I love it when anyone is willing to roll up their sleeves and get elbow-deep in the interpretation of a film, book, or song. Most of the time, I don't fully enjoy a movie unless I get to talk it to death with someone at a bar or coffee shop afterwards. But this was a candy bar. If you're hungry, it fills you up temporarily. And you like the taste of chocolate, peanuts, and caramel. But eventually, you'll probably want a real meal, one that's good for you. Trying to make a steak dinner out of a candy bar just makes you like that guy on Seinfeld who ate Snickers bars with a knife and fork.

♦ Susan Wloszczyna of USA Today takes the presumed Schiavo subtext really seriously.

♦ David Poland thinks A.O. Scott needs to lay off the ganja at The Hot Blog. (And provides other examples of making candy bars into full meals.)